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Over the last several months, the Federal Government has been undertaking consultation on its comprehensive and specific claims policies that are designed to address outstanding Crown obligations as well as outstanding land and rights claims of Aboriginal peoples.
By and large, in the past Métis communities have been excluded from these federal policies. This is unacceptable to Ontario Métis. Moreover, this federal exclusion can no longer be sustained based on the Supreme Court of Canada’s decisions over the last decade.
From the Powley case to the Manitoba Metis Federation case to the Daniels case, the message from the courts to government has been clear: reconciliation in Canada cannot continue to exclude the Métis people. Negotiation processes to address Métis rights, interests and claims are the only way forward. Fortunately, we are now starting to see some progress.
Doug Eyford In November 2014, Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski met with Doug Eyford, a Vancouver-based lawyer, who was appointed by the Federal Government to provide an overview and recommendations with respect to Canada’s existing policy for negotiations on Aboriginal rights and land claims across Canada. President Lipinski made a strong case to Mr. Eyford concerning Canada’s refusal to that point to deal with Métis rights, interests and claims. Click here for the full story.
President Lipinski with Benoit Pelletier In March 2015, MNO President Gary Lipinski met with Benoit Pelletier Federal Government Special Representative in the ongoing review of Canada's current Specific Claims Policy. Mr. Pelletier is a former Minister in the Quebec Government and is currently a professor at the University of Ottawa. Mr. Pelletier's report to Canada on its Specific Claims Policy will be finalized in the summer. Additional information about the ongoing review of Canada's Specific Claims Policy is available by clicking here.
President Lipinski emphasized that Canada's ongoing exclusion of Métis from both the specific and comprehensive claims processes was inconsistent with decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada, the rule of law and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The MNO is optimistic that Mr. Pelletier's report will support the need for Canada to finally create a policy that allows for outstanding Métis claims to be addressed. Click here for the full story.
The Eyford Report Doug Eyford released his report in April 2015. President Lipinski applauded the report as it recommends that Canada create a “reconciliation process” to address Métis rights and outstanding claims. Click here for a copy of the report.
Specifically, Mr. Eyford made the following two Métis-specific recommendations:
1. Canada should develop a reconciliation process to support the exercise of Métis section 35(1) rights and to reconcile their interests.
2. Canada should establish a framework for negotiations with the Manitoba Metis Federation to respond to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Manitoba Metis Federation v. Canada.
It is well past the time to deal with Métis rights in relation to land and resources as well as address outstanding Métis claims outside of the courts. Currently, the Métis have no other place to go, and Mr. Eyford rightfully recognized this cannot continue.” Click here for the full story.
President Lipinski with Minister Valcourt In June 2015, the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs appointed Mr. Tom Isaac, as his independent Special Representative to engage with the MNO as well as other Métis Nation governments on issues related to the section 35 rights of our communities and nation. Mr. Isaac is a well-regarded lawyer and expert in Aboriginal law and has previously written on Métis legal issues.
This appointment is an important ‘breakthrough’ for the Métis Nation. It is the result of all the positive work the MNO has been doing at the local, regional, provincial and national levels on advancing our rights-based agenda. While we still have more work to do before we get to a formal Métis claims process to begin to deal with the rights, interests and claims of Ontario Métis communities, these issues are at least now on the Federal Government’s radar. Click here for the full story.